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Heavy Head Hurts

The two-way Stormzy and Capaldi tussle which has come to define our January so far continues for another week. The two men swap places on the Official UK Albums chart once more, putting Lewis Capaldi's Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent back at Number One for a fifth time. That's now just one short of the all-time record for an artist album set by Sam Smith's In The Lonely Hour when it topped the charts for a sixth time in March 2015. I say "swap places" but in actual fact Stormzy's Heavy Is The Head has wound up at Number 3 in the final count, denied second place by an album which actually came within 637 chart sales of reaching Number One itself. But we'll come to that one in due course.

The Official UK Singles chart remains in a state of "as you were" at the top, Stormzy's Own It holding firm at the top for a third week to exceed the fortnight Vossi Bop spent at Number One in the summer last year. His appearance as a guest on Ed Sheeran's Take Me Back To London remains his longest run at the top, that one stretching to five weeks. Today's fun statistic is that Own It last week sold a mere 2,889 copies with the rest of its total chart sale of 55,000 being derived from its streams. Not that it means anything these days of course, but that does set a brand new record for the smallest weekly paid sale clocked up by a single at the top of the charts [technically Ellie's River sold less a few weeks ago, but that was a special case under special circumstances. We're not comparing like with like there]. Needless to say, there are singles this week that have actually sold far more, Own It a mere Number 6 on the old fashioned sales chart. Blinding Lights by The Weeknd is Number One on that table.

No Sign Of Going Yet

Meanwhile, Capaldi's Before You Go seems destined to spend its chart career as the eternal bridesmaid. The single holds at Number 2 for a third straight week, this now its fifth in total when you take into account the fortnight it also spent as a runner-up just before Christmas. I doubt very much that it will hold on much longer, but it seems only appropriate to note here that the all-time record for total weeks spent at Number 2 without ever topping the charts is seven - with three tracks all tying for the honour.

Why the doubt? Because the ripples of new year change are finally starting to reach the upper end of the singles chart. Brand new hits are arriving and those from lower down are starting to move into positions of domination on the streaming tables.

Now We've All Seen The Future

The highest new entry of the week goes to the man who is possibly the last remaining American rap superstar to have never enjoyed a major hit single. Nayvadius "Future" Wilburn began his performing career almost ten years ago and made his British chart debut three years later, making a cameo appearance on the Lil Wayne track Love Me (a Number 44 hit in March 2013). His co-conspirator on that track was none other than Drake and indeed it is his working relationship with the Canadian which has been responsible for many of his chart appearances to date, the two men credited as co-performers on a string of three chart hits during 2016. Future is one of those men you hit up for collaboration. His chart history over the past few years has seen him credited with co-vocals on tracks by the likes of Maroon 5, Calvin Harris, Chris Brown, Taylor Swift, DJ Khaled and Juice WRLD. What he has lacked in all this time is a major chart single. All of the above were either low-charting album cuts or potential hits which just never took off. Future's only chart success of any note came in the spring of 2017 when his track Mask Off became a brief viral smash (thanks largely to a string of Mask Off Dance Off dance challenge videos) and which spent four straight weeks stuck at Number 22 as its chart peak.

Today all of that changes. Future is a major star at last as Life Is Good smashes its way straight to Number 3. By the by, it just so happens to feature Drake on guest vocals to make this the fifth time the pair have collaborated on a chart single, but let's not get bogged down with that too much. Almost seven years after he first debuted on the UK singles chart Future finally has a Top 3 hit. Whether this is the start of a long run at the upper end remains to be seen of course. For all the fuss this high placing has caused, Life Is Good will to most ears come over as just another fairly nondescript trap joint, although its unconventional structure which sees Drake sing most of the first half as an appetiser and leaves Future to rap the rest means it is at least worth five minutes of your time.

Oh yes, the Drake bit. This is only his second visit to the British Top 10 in the past 12 months, his first such hit since he appeared on Chris Brown's No Guidance last summer. Drake hasn't been part of a Top 3 hit since his own In My Feelings topped the charts for four weeks in August 2018.

Boxed In

The world of rap also gives us the only other new arrival to this week's Top 10. As predicted, The Box from Roddy Ricch makes another flying leap and moves 16-5 in a manner which suggests it stands a better chance than any of ending Stormzy's reign at the top of the charts and duplicating the success he is currently enjoying in America - unless of course any yet to be released singles have any other ideas.

Having made headlines in the past week for issuing what amounted to detailed instructions to fans on how to game the Hot 100 charts in America in favour of the misfiring Yummy, Bieber maniacs here will have to get streaming too if they want to rescue their idol. Last week's highest new entry goes on the slide, slipping four places to Number 9.

Grow Up

It isn't entirely clear precisely what started the big Stormzy/Wiley beef which has been playing out via social media and on record since the end of last year. The younger star had long been happy to acknowledge the elder as a kind of mentor, even to the extent of namedropping him on the track Wiley Flow which formed part of the build-up to the release of the Heavy Is The Head album. Some say it was stray shots from a similar battle between Dot Rotten and Jay1, others that it was prompted by Wiley pouring scorn on Ed Sheeran's ongoing bromance with Stormzy suggesting he's the imposter in the whole scene. Yes, this does indeed all sound like schoolboys squabbling in the playground rather than grown adults conversing, but that's the way people roll these days.

I only bring this up because for the first time since it began one of the back and forth dis tracks that the two men have been exchanging makes a chart appearance of its own. Stormzy's Still Disappointed is his attempt at a measured response to Wiley's Eediyat Skegman 2 in which the two men are now reduced to shouting "your mum" at each other to further extend the appropriateness of my playground metaphor. Drawing enough online attention to out-stream even the tracks from his album, Still Disappointed marks its full release with a fascinating chart appearance at Number 21 to give Stormzy his first brand new hit single of 2020. Its companion Disappointed doesn't quite fare so well and is one of many Stormzy cuts that are presently starred-out at the lower end of the chart. Of Wiley's responses, there is no sign of a full release, although he is reported to be planning a third in the Eediyat Skegman series to pick up where he left off. Juvenile banter or the precursor to something far more sinister? Or maybe it is just two performers cleverly playing us all and lapping up the attention.

Dis wars in rap music are only occasionally conducted in full view of the pop charts, although there have been famous examples in the distant past. Kool Moe Dee's 1987 track How Ya Like Me Now was a part of a long-running feud with LL Cool J and whilst it didn't make the charts here, his rival's follow-up Jack The Ripper did, appearing on a double a-side on the minor Top 40 hit Going Back To Cali in February 1988. A year later the Beatmasters single Who's In The House? was conceived as a direct riposte to the Tyree and Kool Rock Steady track Turn Up The Bass which had advertised itself as the world's first hip-house record, annoying the British producers who had been fusing the two genres for well over two years.

I Wanna Hold You

So what then of the album which narrowly failed to top the charts this week? It is Selena Gomez' Rare, her third solo album (the sixth of her career in total counting her time as the lead singer of The Scene) and easily her highest charting to date. The album is home to her current hit single Lose You To Love Me (which advances back up the charts to Number 18) but also spawns a second Top 40 hit this week with the title track arriving at Number 28 just ahead of its promotion as its third single. Why third? Because the collection is technically also home to 2018 hit single Back To You, although it is relegated to the deluxe and online versions of the release and doesn't feature on the standard CD version.

Frangipane Base

There's another new Top 40 hit at Number 37 as You Should Be Sad gives Halsey a third hit single in recent months - this the follow-up to Number 26 hit Nightmare and the Number 29 cut Graveyard from June and September last year respectively. All three tracks are from her brand new album Manic which was released today (17th), although her widely predicted chances of storming her way to the top of the albums chart next week seem to have taken a slight dive. This is down to the spontaneous release by Eminem of a brand new album of his own, which it seems almost needless to say is going to grab most of the headlines next week. Heck, the damn thing even has an Ed Sheeran collaboration on it. New Year surprise drops are still a thing in 2020 it seems. Although that almost certainly means somebody else is just around the corner waiting to surprise us.

Strings Of Lifeless

Finally for this week, my obsession with the chart run of the Sigala/Ella Henderson track We Got Love continues. It seems to be everywhere, following me around in shops on the high street. A hit in every sense aside from actually you know, being a hit. This week, its 11th week on the chart, it dips one place to Number 44. That's the third time it has occupied that chart position and means it has now spent 8 weeks of its chart life either side of Christmas as a Top 50 hit single without ever climbing higher than Number 42.